The Self-Annihilation of Credibility – Part 6/6

There is no way to know when Robert Hart learned the details of the Taiping Rebellion. In Tilly’s opinion, he should have known all the details before the summer of 1855.

However, I have had the privilage of reading Robert Hart’s journal entries for his first year in China and he never mentions the Taipings—not once, but he does write about pirates, lonliness and his struggles to learn Chinese while working long days at the British consulate in Ningpo.

In  Entering China’s Service on page 156, it says, “Since 7 September 1853, the native city of Shanghai (not the foreign enclaves) had been in the hands of rebels from the Small Sword Society, an off-shoot of the Triads (note that it doesn’t say Taiping Rebels); Hart wrote of these circumstances when he was there (in Shanghai staying in the British sector) in route to Ningpo in early October 1854.”

On page 157, the editors said, “The local Triad Society rebellion at Shanghai was of course only a pale reflection of the great sweep of the Taiping Rebellion … In May 1855 … Hart heard that the rebels (the Taipings) had taken Yushan … between 300 and 400 miles from Ningpo. … Ningpo had more immediate concerns in the feud between the Portuguese lorchamen and Cantonese pirates. The prevalence of pirates … was a grave threat to the shipping of all nations (not the Taiping Rebellion).”

The Taipings did not control one port in China at this time.

Two months later, Robert would be spending the summer with his friend Captain Dan Patridge and there is no way to know what happened at Patridge’s house, because Hart burned the journals that covered the next 2.9 years—what did Robert want to hide?

In fact, Hart does not go into detail about who the Taipings were anywhere in his journals while he was still working in Ningpo, and that is understandable since he arrived in China not speaking or reading Chinese and was often isolated from other English speakers for days at a time in Ningpo as he worked long hours at the consulate dealing with merchants (both Chinese and Western) while struggling with the frustration of learning Chinese.

How could Hart discuss the details of a Chinese rebellion when he could not hold a conversatoin with the Chinese? It was also obvious from the entries in Hart’s journals that the few English speaking people he met in Ningpo, Shanghai or Hong Kong were not concerned about the Taiping Rebellion. It wasn’t a topic foreigners were interested in.

Knowing that there was a rebellion is one thing.  Knowing the specific details and history behind the cause of the rebellion is another and that was what Robert learned from Captain Dan Patridge in July 1855.

Hart arrived in Hong Kong in July 1854 and in July of 1855 he spends the summer with Partridge where he was introduced intimately to the concubine culture and discovered the details of the Taiping rebellion.

By the way, Patridge was a real person and he was the principal agent in China of Jardine and Matheson, the largest opium merchant operating in China. In fact, the Taipings were against the opium trade and wanted to throw all foreigners out of China.

Hart’s first year in China was spent mostly in isolation from his own kind and he felt lonely because of this. Most of the people he met on a daily basis were Chinese and he didn’t speak their language and they did not speak his. It was a difficult and demanding situation at best without the benefit of cultural workshops, inservices and the Interent that we take for granted today. I’m sure that the Queen’s College in Belfast did not have history courses on China during the 19th century and probably most of the 20th too.

Hart says in a July 29, 1855 entry of his journal, “I fear when I go back to the Consulate for the winter, I shall feel the loneliness very much.”

On page 169 of Entering China’s service, it says, “Unlike the lawlessness at Ningpo, which was due to crime—large scale, to be sure, but not organized as rebellion—the disorder of the 1850s at Canton was connected directly or indirectly with the rebellion of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom.”

It would not be until 1858 that Hart was transferred to Canton. While Hart worked in Ningpo, as you may see, the concern of the Chinese and Westerners had little to do with the Taiping Rebellion and more with pirates and crime. Hart did not study Chinese history as it happened. He lived it and did not experience the Taiping Rebellion during his first year in China.

In addition, it wouldn’t be until Ayaou was his concubine, that he would start making progress learning Chinese and by then he knew all about the Taipings thanks to Captain Patridge, the opium merchant.

Tilly at the Readers Cafe has a right to her opinion about the novel but does not have a right to defame me or my work with a sloppy review filled with false claims of historical inaccuracy.

Return to The Self-Annihilation of Credibility – Part 5 or start with Part 1

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Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

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The Self-Annihilation of Credibility – Part 3/6

Tilly’s second incorrect opinion—while it is true that Victorian women had very little in the way of rights, that does not mean Robert Hart was not raised by his parents to treat women as equals.  In fact, Robert Hart was raised as a Wesleyan by his father, a Wesleyan pastor, and the Wesleyan Church believed that women were equal to men.

Now, granted, the belief that women were equal to men might not be exactly the same as in 21st century America, but that does not mean Hart was not raised to respect women as equals.

In fact, the Wesleyan Church has a long history of supporting women’s rights. “Citing Galatians 3:28, Luther Lee gave the sermon Woman’s Right to Preach the Gospel when Antoinette L. Brown became the first woman ordained to the clergy in 1853.” Source: Wesleyan Church History

In addition, The Wesleyan Chapel in Seneca Falls, New York hosted the first Women’s Rights Convention in 1848, also known as the Seneca Falls Convention—the beginning of the women’s rights movement in the United States.

Third incorrect opinion—Tilly claims that Robert Hart could not have believed that paying 33 pounds for a concubine was cheap. However, on page 150 of Sterling Seagrave’s Dragon Lady (paperback edition), Robert Hart is quoted as saying, “Now, some of the China women are very good looking. You can make one your absolute possession for from 50 to 100 dollars and support her at a cost of 2 or 3 dollars per month. … Shall I hold out—or shall I give way?”

Then on Thursday, August 31, 1854, Hart wrote in his journal, “Cheepqua told us…that from 200 to 1000 dollars are given for a wife of respectable Chinese. They marry between the ages of 16 and 30.” Source: Entering China’s Service

Then Seagrave says, “By early May he had a sleep-in dictionary, his concubine, Ayaou.  He had just turned twenty; Ayaou was barely past puberty but was wise beyond her years.”

Since both Seagrave’s book and Entering China’s Service was published in America, we may safely assume that Seagrave was referring to dollars and not pounds or Chinese yuan. No one knows what Hart actually paid for Ayaou or Shao-mei because Hart did not mention the price paid anywhere in his surviving journals, so I went with British pounds. However, Robert may have paid as little as £10 British pounds, which at the time was about $50 American dollars.

For a comparison to discover if that was as costly as Tilly believes, we cannot rely on the British Empire—slavery was abolished in most of the British Empire in 1833, two years before Robert’s birth

The only comparison between cheap and expensive slaves (or the cost of buying a concubine) may be found in the United States where slavery existed until the end of the American Civil War in 1864.

According to Plantation agriculture in Southeast USA, the average price of a slave between 1851-1855 was $1,240 .  When we convert that to British pounds, the cost of a slave was £253.83 British Pounds.

Another source says the average price of a slave girl in the United States in 1860 was $400US, which would be about £80 British pounds. Source: Slave Rebellion.org

A third source said that in 1854 (when Hart arrived in China) the average value of slaves in the United States was $500.00 (or £100 British pounds) and by 1861, that price would be $800US (£160 British pounds). Source: Measuring Worth.com

Therefore, if Robert Hart paid between ten to thirty-three British pounds for Ayaou, that was a bargain he could afford. Anyone that read The Concubine Saga carefully would know that Robert arrived in China with £50 pounds (a gift from his father—it says so in Hart’s journals) and started out earning an annual income from the British consulate of about £200 (again, it says so in Hart’s journals), and his room, board and servant came with the job. However, he had to pay for a teacher to teach him Chinese—the consulate did not cover that expense as part of his salary.

Furthermore, what Hart was paid when he arrived in China was not what he was earning when he met Ayaou. In Hart’s journal entry for July 4, 1855, he says he was nominated to a provisional assistancy in the Consulate with an annual salary of £270 British pounds.

Continued on July 12, 2012 in The Self-Annihilation of Credibility – Part 4 or return to Part 2

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

The Self-Annihilation of Credibility – Part 2/6

The second challenge (another example of defamation) to the history that flows through The Concubine Saga came from the Reader’s Cafe in a June 2012 review written by Tilly. This book review site has no search-engine traffic rank according to Alexa.com (at the time I checked) and has only 10 members but according to its Blog Archive it was launched in 2006.

Is this an indication of the popularity of reviews written on this site?

Anyway, Tilly proclaimed for all the world to read as long as the Reader’s Cafe remains an active domain that:

1. The time it took for Robert Hart to sail from  England to China was unrealistic.

2. Tilly claimed that Robert Hart could not have been raised to respect women as equals in Victorian England.

3. Robert Hart could not have believed that paying 33 pounds for a concubine was cheap.

4. Tilly called Ayaou, Hart’s concubine, a harlot.

5. Eunuchs were not castrated before they were hired to work in the Forbidden City.

6. Tilly claims there was no such thing as the Santai Dynasty

7. According to Tilly, there was no way that Robert Hart could not have known about the Taiping Rebellion in detail before he learns about it in the novel.

In reply to number one, I never mentioned how long it took Robert Hart to sail from England to China. The original first edition of The Concubine Saga opens as Hart arrived in Hong Kong after a long voyage from England.  Hart’s next voyage takes place a few days later from Hong Kong to Shanghai and I assure you that I followed the time span it took to make that voyage from Robert Hart’s own journal that covers his first year in China. He goes into detail about that trip even mentioning the pirates that chased the ship he was on.

The Concubine Saga (a revised and edited version of My Splendid Concubine combined with the sequel Our Hart, Elegy for a Concubine) says in the third paragraph on page 3, “A month earlier, his ship had reached Hong Kong on July 25…”

Maybe I should have said, “his ship from England”.  You see, Robert Hart first arrived in Hong, where he stayed for a few days before sailing to Shanghai where he stayed with the Lay brothers before sailing to Ningpo about 100 miles south of Shanghai.

It’s all in Hart’s journals—every step of his journey after he arrived in China. In fact, Hart’s journal does not mention how long it took him to sail from England to Hong Kong other then he was seasick most of the voyage. However, he goes into detail about the voyage from Hong Kong to Shanghai.

Tilly’s next example of defamation was to claim that Robert Hart was not raised to respect women as equals. To make this error meant she probably didn’t read the novel carefully or has attention deficit disorder or short term memory issues.

Continued July 10, 2012 in The Self-Annihilation of Credibility – Part 3 or return to Part 1

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

When a Girl becomes a Woman depends on the Law at the Time

An honest 21st century review of The Concubine Saga at ColReads.com brought up a good subject for a post—the history of the changing attitudes of when a girl becomes a woman (You may want to click on the link to ColReads and read the entire review).

ColReads said, “The girls were younger than 15, for goodness sake. I had a hard time getting past that,” which is understandable when we take into account that in 21st century America the law makes a girl/woman a child until age 14, 15, 16, 17 or 18 depending on which U.S. state you live in (watch the video to find out the age of consent in each state).

However, the age of consent laws in the middle of the 19th century (the time period of The Concubine Saga, which is based on a real story) were not the same as they are today.

To understand the difference between now and then, today in the People’s Republic of China the age of consent for sexual activity is 14, regardless of gender and/or sexual orientation. In Hong Kong, it is 16 and in Macau 18.

However, “Depictions of ‘child-romance’ in ancient or modern Chinese literature are not difficult to find. They include passages on joyous heterosexual or homosexual activities by children as young as 12 to13 years old with one another or with adults. Children are usually described as natural sexual beings and erotic stimulation and sex-play are seen as beneficial to their healthy development (Chen 2000).” In fact, “For most of Chinese history, the minimum marriage age suggested by the government had ranged between 12 and 16.” Source: Department of Psychiatry, University of Hong Kong

For a comparison, in 1875 in the UK, a concern that young girls were being sold into brothels let Parliament change the age of consent to 13. Prior to that, the age of consent was 12.

However, in the United States in 1875, each state determined its own criminal law and the age of consent ranged from 10 to 12 years of age. It would not be until after the 1930s that the term “jail bait” came into use in America as the age of consent laws changed. (I wonder if the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution giving the right to vote to women had anything to do with these changes.)

I could have sanitized The Concubine Saga and made both Ayaou and her sister Shao-mei much older to fit the attitudes of today’s readers but then that would have been historically incorrect. Sterling Seagrave in his book Dragon Lady, the Life and Legend of the Last Empress of China, wrote, “He (Robert Hart) had just turned twenty. Ayaou was barely past puberty but was wise beyond her years.”

If Ayaou was barely 14, then there was only a six-year age gap between the two, while Hart’s arranged marriage to a young Irish woman named Hester Jane Bredon a decade later sees the gap double to twelve years when he was thirty and she was eighteen. In fact, Seagrave says, “He (Hart) sought a wife as straightforwardly as he had bought a concubine.” After returning to Ireland for a brief stay in 1866, Robert proposed marriage to Hester five days after he met her. The courtship lasted three months before they were married.

Should authors ignore historical fact and rewrite history to reflect the moral sensitivities of today’s readers?

For more on this topic, discover Modern-Day Witch Hunts and Vigilantes – the politically-correct mob’s (sex) war against teachers

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

“The Concubine Saga” Web Tour Schedule – June 2012

So Many Precious Books  May 30 Review & Giveaway

Broken Teepee  June 1 Review & Giveaway

My Little Pocketbooks  June 30 Review

My Little Pocketbooks  June 4 Interview & Giveaway

Bookish Dame             June 6 Review

Bookish Dame G & GP June 6  Guest Post & Giveaway

J.A. Beard  June 8 Interview

My Devotional Thoughts  June 8           Review

My Devotional Thoughts  June 9 Guest Post & Giveaway

Book Dilettante                  June 11  Review

Book Dilettante  June 12 Guest Post

Joy Story  June 12  Review

Books, Books, & More Books  June 13           Review & Giveaway

Live to Read  June 14 Review

Peeking Between the Pages  June 14 Guest Post & Giveaway

Col Reads  June 15 Review

Celtic Lady’s Reviews  June 18 Review

Ink Spots & Roses  June 18 Guest Post & Giveaway

The Readers Cafe  June 19  Review

Knitting and Sundries  June 20 Review & Giveaway

Sweeps 4 Bloggers  June 21 Review & Giveaway

The Reading Life  June 22 Review

The Reading Life  June 21 Interview

Historical Fiction Connection  June 22  Guest Post

Layered Pages              June 25            Review

Layered Pages  June 26 Interview
Historical Tapestry   June 25 Guest Post

Peaceful Wishing  June 26  Review

To Read or Not to Read  June 27 Review

To Read or Not to Read  June 28 Guest Post & Giveaway

M Denise C.  June 28 Review

Succotash Reviews  June 29 Review & Giveaway
Moonlight Gleam   June 29 Guest Post & Giveaway

Jayne’s Books  June 29            Review & Giveaway

          ___________________________________

PRESS RELEASE
FOR RELEASE before June 1, 2012
CONTACT:
Lloyd Lofthouse, author
lflwriter@gmail.com

 IN THE 19th and EARLY 20th CENTURY, ROBERT HART WAS CRUCIAL TO THE SURVIVAL OF CHINA!

WALNUT CREEK, CA (3/2/12) — Robert Hart (1835 – 1911) was the ‘Godfather of China’s modernism’ and the only foreigner the emperor of China trusted. In fact, Hart played a crucial role in ending the bloodiest rebellion in history, and he owed this success largely to his live in dictionary and encyclopedia, his Chinese concubine Ayaou. In Dragon Lady, Sterling Seagrave wrote that Ayaou “was wise beyond her years”. In Entering China’s Service, Harvard scholars wrote, “Hart’s years of liaison with Ayaou gave him his fill of romance, including both its satisfaction and its limitations.”

With sales in the thousands, award-winning author Lloyd Lofthouse brings My Splendid Concubine (2007) and the sequel, Our Hart, Elegy for a Concubine (2010) together in The Concubine Saga (2012).

My Splendid Concubine was the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.

In the sequel, Our Hart, Elegy for a Concubine, he was the only foreigner the Emperor of China trusted.

Soon after arriving in China in 1854, Robert Hart falls in love with Ayaou, but his feelings for her sister go against the teachings of his Christian upbringing and almost break him emotionally. To survive he must learn how to live and think like the Chinese and soon finds himself thrust into the Opium Wars and the Taiping Rebellion, the bloodiest rebellion in human history, where he makes enemies of men such as the American soldier of fortune known as the Devil Soldier.

My Splendid Concubine earned honorable mentions in general fiction at the 2008 London Book Festival, and in 2009 at the Hollywood Book Festival and San Francisco Book Festival.

Our Hart, Elegy for a Concubine earned honorable mentions in general fiction at the Los Angeles Book Festival, Nashville Book Festival, London Book Festival, DIY Book Festival and was a Finalist of the National Best Books 2010 Awards.

In addition, The Concubine Saga picked up an Honorable Mention in Fiction at the 2012 San Francisco Book Festival.

Lloyd Lofthouse served in the Vietnam War as a U.S. Marine and lives near San Francisco with his wife and family with a second home in Shanghai, China. As a former Marine, Lloyd earned a BA in Journalism and an MFA in writing. His Blog, iLook China.net, currently averages 600 views a day with more than 200,000 since its launch in January 2010. My Splendid Concubine.com, his Website, has had 72,000 visitors since December 2007. At Authors Den, his work has been viewed 336,000 times.

Virtual Author Book Tours.com arranged the June 2012 book tour of 27 book Blogs.

In addition, in 2008, following the launch of My Splendid Concubine, Lofthouse appeared as a China expert on more than 30 talk-radio shows from The Dr. Pat Show on KKNW 1150 AM in Seattle to The Smith and Riley Show on WFLF 540 AM in Orlando Florida.

The Concubine Saga
ISBN: 978-0-9819553-8-4

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”